The jigsaw pieces have fallen in place after an enthralling race in the Italian Serie A. The race for the final two slots in the top four went on to the final day of the season, and there was always going to be one side losing. In the end, it was Napoli, who started the weekend in fourth place and well poised, but finished fifth.
The disappointment was clear at the end of their 1-1 draw with lowly Hellas Verona, who had gone to the weekend on the back of an unimpressive run. They needed to match, or better Juventus’ results, with the deposed champions playing away to Bologna. However, while Napoli struggled to break Verona, Juventus had an easy outing, leading 3-0 at the break.
The dejection at the end of the game suggested the pain at the missed chance. It meant another season out of the Champions League, but in reality, it is a good break for the team that was set to go in transition either way, and Europa League will be lesser forgiving.
The relations between manager Gennaro Gattuso and the club’s top hierarchy has been frosty from the moment the team failed to make it past the group stages of the Europa League. Gattuso blasted the management for not supporting him enough and by the time they face Verona, it hadn’t thawed and it was an open secret that the club was looking around for a new manager.
The result against Verona may just mask things but all indications were that even with a win on the final day, Gattuso would still have been fired. The strong run towards the end of the season meant nothing and a win would have made the decision just harder to explain. Luciano Spalletti has been tipped to replace Gattuso and he will have to come in with his own style.
Spalletti will hope he finds a functional unit at the team but apart from Gattuso’s departure, there’s all to suggest more movement is on the way. Defender Kalidou Koulibaly has for a while been linked with a move out and after failing to inspire the team to a top finish, time may be up for him. He needs to clear the way for a new project and the rumor mills are running with a next destination said to be in England.
Fabian Ruiz is also another player set to follow Gattuso out of Napoli. The club is said to be willing to listen to offers of about €60m for the midfielder. Manchester City is rumored to be his next employer and after winning the Premier League and Champions League football assured, City will not be troubled by that fee, if they need the player. Being a Spaniard and fitting well in Pep Guardiola’s style could work for Ruiz.
The team is also set to welcome a few new players in a new project expected to propel the side up the Italian football ladder and in Europe. A top player targeted by the club is Villarreal defender Pau Torres and it is the biggest indication Koulibaly is leaving. Torres has is set to feature for his club in the Wednesday Europa League final against Manchester United, another club interested in his services.
Torres has been pivotal in Villarreal’s unbeaten run in Europe and even as they go to their first ever European final, the Europa League betting tips on SportyTrader back the Spaniard side for a win.
Victor Osimhen still has a future at the team but in truth, he has struggled for a majority of the season, and when needed to lift the team, he rarely showed up. After a good scoring run, he went on a drought towards the end of the season and failed to aid the team to Champions League football. He hasn’t had the best form, that which made Napoli pay top dollar for his acquisition and he would struggle in the Champions League.
Tottenham forward Erik Lamela, who looks set to leave the North London outfit has also been linked with Napoli and from all angles, this looks like a positive move and Marcos Senesi from Feyenoord is also under the Italians’ watch.